Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Learning a Language

Most of us have to learn a little bit of a new language when we’re in high school. However, for many people, this simply is not enough. You may need to learn a new language for work or education purposes. If so, there are some things you should keep in mind.

Learning a language takes time. You will want to give yourself at least 3-6 months before you need to use your new language with some skill.

At-home programs require dedication. Sure, the ads for Rosetta Stone make it seem like you can learn a new language right in your home, but this really only works if you are committed. If you want to go it alone, try to get a variety of materials. The more you immerse yourself in your new tongue, the better. So, grab a computer program, language CDs, and even try watching a few of your favorite movies in your new language.

If you need to learn a language fast, consider enrolling in an intensive language program. Now is a great time to start applying for summer opportunities. Many colleges offer intensive courses. However, if you want a cheaper option, consider applying to the Critical Language Institute. You get an all-expenses-paid trip overseas to be immersed in a new language. It's run by the U.S. Department of State to help future policy officials learn important second languages like Arabic and Persian.

The key to mastering a language, though, is practice. If you can't find someone to talk to in your new language, check out one of the many social language websites. I'm a member of interpals, which is a great place to meet new people. Other good sites include livemocha and speakingcam.

Good Luck!

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